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Wednesday June 3, 2009

Jaya Supermarket demolition done without approval

GEORGE TOWN: The Department of Occupational Safety and Health did not give approval for the demolition of the Jaya Supermarket in Petaling Jaya, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subrama-niam.

He said the developers had a demolition permit from the local authority and while they had applied for the department’s approval, they did not obtain it when they started the demolition work.

Dr Subramaniam said the department began its investigations on Monday and it would take about two weeks to complete.

“If there is any element of negligence, the engineers, contractors and the proprietor of the building can be fined RM50,000, jailed up to two years, or both, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act for each offence,” he told a press conference after launching a Small-Medium Enterprises training fair at a hotel yesterday.

On May 28, the five-storey portion of the supermarket building collapsed right to the basement during demolition work.

Seven workers died in the incident.

Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was amending the Act so that professionals would be held accountable for monitoring work being done as it was impossible for department officers to monitor every company throughout the year.

Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohamad Roslan Sakiman said developers and contractors would be asked to sign a statutory declaration that they were responsible for a work until its completion to further enhance public safety.

At present, he said, the Uniform Building By-laws only required such a declaration when the building plan was submitted.

He added that the Housing and Local Government Ministry’s Certificate of Completion and Compliance in 2007 had also replaced the council’s Certificate of Fitness.

As such, the applicants bear sole responsibility for the construction or demolition, which includes safety at the site, he said.

Section 14A Rukun Tetangga chairman Tee Kee Ti, however, felt that it was not appropriate for the local council “to blame the matter on somebody” and “to push away their responsibility in such a way”.

DP Architects Sdn Bhd, when contacted, said it was helping the authorities gather the relevant information for the ongoing investigation but could not comment at this stage.